Shi’a Islam Celebration Of Ashura (Caution: Hard To Watch)

This is part of the Shia observance of Day of Ashura.

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  1. It’s a little like how in some RC cultures they whip and crucify themselves.

    @Alberto: The Ashura observance commemorates the deaths of Hussein and Hassan, the sons of Muhammad’s son-in-law (and cousin) ‘Ali at the battle of Kerbela. The Shi’a began as a faction in early Islam that believed that the Caliphate should devolve to the household of Muhammad, and hence supported ‘Ali’s claim to the Caliphate over the claims of Abubekr, ‘Usman, and ‘Umar (who are recognized as Caliphs by the Sunni). There was strife between these two factions, with the deaths of Hassan and Hussein being considered the crowning tragedy to the Shi’ites; hence the extravagant mourning rituals commemorating these deaths. Partly it’s identification with the sufferings of these martyrs; partly penance for having let down the house of Muhammad.

    The Shi’ites have always been the minority among Muslims. At various times, they were dominant over sections of the Islamic world, such as during the Fatimid Caliphate (909-1171 A.D.), which governed various portions of northern Africa, the Hejaz, and Levant while centered in Egypt. In the 16th century, the Safavid dynasty of Iran favored the Ithna’ashariyya brand of Shi’ism (the Fatimids had favored the Ismaili), and established themselves as a Shi’ite counterbalance to the Sunnite Ottoman and Mughal states. This is why Iran, Azerbaijan, and the southern part of Iraq are Shi’ite countries today.

    Also, the Assassins of the Middle Ages were a Shi’ite sect (Ismaili). They got a hard lesson at the hands of Huleku Khan the Mongol in the 1250’s, who reduced their strongholds in northern Iran and massacred them. Their survivors fled to India, where they became the sect that follows the Agha Khan.

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